Racing: Double cures bout of flu

By Mike Dillon

There's nothing like a winner or two to make you feel well - just ask trainer.

Hera coped well with the heavy track at Ellerslie on Saturday to win the Great Northern Foal Stakes.  Photo / Trish Dunell
Hera coped well with the heavy track at Ellerslie on Saturday to win the Great Northern Foal Stakes. Photo / Trish Dunell

Cambridge trainer Roger James agonised on Saturday morning.

And it wasn't just the unshiftable bad case of flu which has hounded him for a couple of weeks.

James thought long and hard about whether to allow Hera and Royal Tiger to compete on Ellerslie's heavy track.

It was not an easy decision on two horses who almost certainly have huge futures.

Sometimes you just have to trust fate.

Both horses won and showed grit, determination and plenty of class to get through dreadfully heavy footing.

Perhaps the saving grace for Hera was the heavy showers that at least made the Ellerslie surface loose.

"She managed to get through the ground," said rider Matt Cameron.

"She's got plenty of heart and she decided they weren't going to beat her."

James said he will do what he always does - wait a day or two to decide whether he now spells Hera or keeps her going in search of further black type. Royal Tiger, unbeaten in two barrier trials and two races, will almost certainly be spelled.

Only class got him home on Saturday.

Ralph Manning won the two open handicaps at Ellerslie with horses who have both flown under the radar in the past couple of seasons.

That is especially true of Civic Rocks, who was winning his eighth race in the Barfoot & Thompson Sprint. Civic Rocks had to lump 59kg topweight to achieve his victory under Opie Bosson.

Old Drumble had been suggesting a win with two good third placings since spelling.

Meanwhile over at Doomben, The Baker/Forsman stable's Brisbane pair Usainity and Ambitious Champion finished unplaced in Saturday's A$150,000 ($179,000) Grand Prix, but were not disgraced.

Ambitious Champion finished seventh, but it was Usainity's fourth placing that had the training partnership mystified.

"Hugh [Bowman] said that for most of the home straight Usainity felt a bit flat, as if he'd had enough this preparation, but he said that on the line he grabbed the bit and wanted to start charging," said Murray Baker of the Queensland Derby hopeful.

"Not quite sure what to make of that."

In Sydney Usainity had beaten the Grand Prix winner Hawkspur.

"Ambitious Champion was having his first start at that level and did a good job.

"Jonathan Riddell said he's green and still has a lot to learn, which we knew."

- NZ Herald

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